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Christopher Wood, Building the Boat, Tréboul, 1930
Alfred Wallis took up painting in his seventies, ‘for company’ following the death of his wife in 1922. Working from a small terraced cottage in St Ives, Cornwall, he produced hundreds of paintings using the materials around him, from industrial ship paint to scraps of cardboard packaging. In the 1870’s Wallis had been a ‘mariner, merchant service’, crossing the Atlantic, before going on to work on smaller fishing boats closer to shore. It is from these experiences that he took inspiration; he almost always painted from memory, recalling his days at sea.
In contrast Christopher Wood was young, worldly and ambitious for his art, living in Paris for much of his short life. During a visit to St Ives with fellow artist Ben Nicholson in 1928, he encountered Wallis for the first time. Wallis’ untutored style and inventive use of materials had a marked effect on Wood’s stylistic development. Wood wrote:
‘I am more and more influenced by Alfred Wallis, not a bad master though’
Nicholson and Wood introduced Jim Ede to Alfred Wallis’ work. Ede admired Wallis’ ability to express so effectively the power of the sea through paint, and went on to acquire over 100 of his paintings. Many of these, alongside paintings by Christopher Wood, are presented in this exhibition – two artists’ expertly portraying their distinct experiences of the sea and shore.
The exhibition runs until 27 August 2017 and is free to visit. More information here.